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Lessons from a Legal Tug-of-War: How a Property Owner Overcame the Ultimate Rental Nightmare

Indian real estate is a dual-edged sword. For investors, it is a golden goose when treated with patience and care. For renters, it is a convenient choice with low commitment if someone wants to move after a short period. However, both can fall into legal entanglement if either party doesn’t keep their end of the bargain, as was the case for an elderly Bengaluru resident.

Venugopal Mottur Padmanabhan has property on Bannerghatta Road beside his primary residence. Like any middle-class senior citizen, Padmanabhan, too, thought of renting out the flat as a wise decision to earn extra income post-retirement. However, his innocent dream of a comfortable twilight years was quashed in a seemingly never-ending legal battle.

Trouble in Paradise

In June 2019, Mr. Padmanabhan rented out his Bannerghatta Road flat to a couple after signing a formal rental agreement while still employed in Muscat. The tenants – Amit Choudhary, an interior designer, and Neha Choudhary, manager of a private bank branch in Bengaluru, issued a cheque of Rs 1 lakh as a deposit, which later bounced. This was the first strike of lightning in the approaching thunderstorm for the retired bank employee.

By August 2019, the Choudharys could be classified as defaulters by not paying any rent after two months into their stay. Padmanabhan had to chase his tenants for rent, including approaching the bank ranch where Neha Choudhary worked, but all in vain. With no response or hope from them, Padmanabhan turned to India’s legal system.

On the grounds of the bounced deposit check and nearly four months’ rent due, a legal notice was sent to the Choudharys asking them to clear the dues and vacate the apartment.

The Unyielding Defaulters in Court and Beyond

In March 2020, after receiving the legal notice, the Choudharys allegedly paid three months of pending rent and offered to vacate the flat. However, the Covid pandemic struck, causing nationwide lockdown, which served as an excuse for the tenants to remain in the flat free of cost.

The shocking events in this legal tug-of-war occurred when the tenants approached the court in July 2020. Their allegation was against Padmanabhan and his wife for threatening the Choudharys using their henchmen. In another dramatic turn, the court dismissed the tenants’ case in December 2021, as they even defaulted to appear in court.

The Legal Tug of War

According to the house rent agreement imposed in Bengaluru and the Rent Control Acts, a tenant who defaults on rent payment becomes a justifiable ground for eviction. Hoping for similar results by following the legal procedure, Padmanabhan pleaded with the court for an eviction order so that he could reclaim his property.

Padmanabhan remained relentless as the court battle continued for two years. On 13 January 2023, a court order issued by the VIIth Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge in Bengaluru noted the fallacy of the Choudharys issuing a cheque, which later bounced. With no deposit and defaulted rent payments, the civil court passed an order directing the couple to vacate the flat and pay the remaining dues, aside from Rs 16,000, towards the litigation expenses of the complainant.

The Final Call of the Siren

Maintaining their record of being a landlord’s worst nightmare, the Choudharys refused to move out despite the court order. Having exhausted his patience, the elderly Bengaluru man had to procure a delivery warrant from the court to evict them with police help.

Finally, on July 24, 2023, Padmanabhan reclaimed his flat with the assistance of Hulimavu police. The Choudhary couple had remained in the property illegally for most of their 4-year period without paying flat maintenance charges, electricity bills, and rent for months on end.

Lessons for this Ordeal

While Venugopal Mottur Padmanabhan’s legal victory reinstills our faith in the legal system, there are lessons to be learned from his ordeal. Fighting the right fight may have served this Bengaluru man eventually, but it remains a question of whether all his turmoil could have been avoided.

We at ORO Proptech aim to resolve such issues before they arise and simplify renting for all parties involved. So, when potential tenants search for homes for rent in Bengaluru, they don’t have to jump through hoops to find a place simply because of landlords’ sour experiences with their previous tenants. So, contact us, and let’s work together to make renting simpler.